Q. Dear Curators,
I have been in a relationship for 6 years now. We get along well but somehow the spark we had in the first couple of years of dating is missing now. I don’t want to upset her but am also not sure how to bring this up. Help, please.
A. Keeping things exciting in a relationship and in bed takes intention, skills, work and know your hormones. Popular culture makes us believe that the spark is something that stays if you really love someone but, reality tells us otherwise. Most of us experience loss of attraction and excitement as the relationship proceeds. We feel much more emotionally connected to our partners because we know them so well, but that deep connection keeps us from feeling all the exciting shivers required to light up sparks.
Many go for relationship counselling because they think that there is something wrong with the relationship but sometimes it is just a matter of understanding where the spark used to come from earlier.
Your feelings come from a place of genuine care, which means that not only there is nothing wrong with the relationship, but also that you have real deep emotions for your partner. And 6 years? That’s really long for the times we live in, where people can’t even sustain 6 minutes of attention for someone. The Intimacy Curator’s way to bring anything up is:
First, express how you feel towards your partner. Tell them how much you care about them and how you want this relationship to last. They will feel safe hearing this and will be more open to any suggestions and plans.
Secondly, find out how they feel about the relationship Remember that there are two of you in this. Your partner could be experiencing low libido for reasons beyond the relationship and you will want to support that. They might be feeling the same way – a little bored. Tell them you really want to love them more and make your relationship even better. Who says no to that? Cuddling during the conversation will help.
Once you have them on board, go on memory lane together and pull out what made the relationship exciting back then. Those were your peak intimacy hormonal moments. Norepinephrine, dopamine, phenylethylamine, estrogen and testosterone as well as oxytocin were fully flowing in your body making you feel sparks, flames and fire.
To light them back look at what feelings made you excited:
- Was it the novelty of it all? Some of us simply get turned on by new experiences, places, positions, and partners. Introducing these different elements to your revamped sexual repertoire will light some sparks on.
- Was there distance and time scarcity between you two? Being far apart makes the heart grow fonder and the adrenaline pumps faster when you eventually meet. Stay away from each other more, the joy of meeting will increase the sparks.
- Were there restrictions and prohibitions? Many of us find taboo and challenging scenarios very exciting – the more prohibited the more passionate the flames.
- Was there more play and ambiguity? The ‘yes, no, maybe’ game does work for a lot of us. It stimulates our curiosity and dopamine bursts. Wondering what is going to happen next is exactly how social media keeps us hooked for more, just like old age flirting games.
All these aspects and obstacles make the honeymoon phase (the first year or two) more exciting.
Good relationship counseling should teach that sustaining the rush is not only about understanding how you want to feel and honestly communicating needs and desires. Sparks are mostly created by our hormonal reactions to stimuli so visualizing the playground together, creating distance, ambiguity and obstacles are equally important to develop the body reactions we want.